Saturday, February 23, 2008

What do Aliens look like?

Amazing meeting yesterday afternoon at the Science Museum. Here's the story: the British Association for the Advancement of Science (BA) has been asking for science questions via their web pages for awhile, in advance of Science Week, which is 7-16 March. A question that keeps coming up is "what do aliens look like?" so, to address that question, the BA pulled together a small panel which met yesterday. Our brief was to come up with some plausible alien life forms that can be visually presented during Science Week. The keyword here is plausible. It would be easy to pluck super-exotic aliens from the rich fauna of SF but then very difficult to explain the science. Of course, the fictional evolutionary science, or biochemistry, or ecosystems of even plausible aliens is going to have gaping holes, but we were tasked with trying to minimise those.

So, what did we come up with..? I can't say now but all will, I hope, be revealed during Science Week (and in this blog, then). ...and here is the press release describing our life forms.

Visualisation by Julian Hume, Research Fellow at the Natural History Museum/University of Portsmouth.


  1. This quest for "forseeing" alien life forms reminds me of the old novel, "The Silkie" by van Vogt.

    Underwater alien lifeforms are present there too, and much more.

    What's interesting is that we don't consider mankind and it's potential of becoming "alien". See the same Silkie novel, or Asimov's Foundation.

  2. Thankyou T for your comment. I don't know that novel - will check it out.

    Recently I read a couple of the excellent Neal Asher 'Spatterjay' novels, which are full of astonishing marine alien life - with a fully worked out natural history and ecosystem. Strongly recommended!